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Studio Sessions | YG Beats on working with Shordie Shordie rise and Nicki Minaj’s “Fractions”

In this installment of “Studio Sessions,” the platinum-selling producer discusses his long history with Shordie Shordie, how he became a crucial part of Nicki Minaj’s “Fractions” creation, and what it’s like in the studio with Freddie Gibbs.

YG Beats on the studio with Freddie Gibbs Tom Nguyen

YG Beats has helped break artists like Shordie Shordie with songs like “Bitchuary” because you can always catch him in the studio ready to work. And he knows that means that at any moment, magic can happen.

“I was outside smoking and saw two or three people coming down the walkway on the side of the building, so I thought, ‘Who the fuck is that?’” he told REVOLT. “I look up and it’s [Pusha T]. He dropped in like Batman.”

In this installment of “Studio Sessions,” the platinum-selling producer discusses his long history with Shordie Shordie, how he became a crucial part of Nicki Minaj’s “Fractions” creation, and what it’s like in the studio with Freddie Gibbs. Peep the chat below.

You worked with Shordie Shordie for “Bitchuary” before he blew up. What was your early chemistry like?

It’s always been great for the most part. When I first got with Shordie, I was messing around with Tate [Kobang] because that’s Tate’s little cousin. There’s another artist by the name of PDM Purp he used to run with. They had a group called Peso Da Mafia. When they first started making music, we were always around each other in the studio, in and out of sessions. So, it ended up coming together because we respected each other’s music and were always around each other. We kept working, and when Shordie got to a point where he found his niche, I was still around creating. We happened to create a couple of dope records and made a little bit of history. I’ve been around Shordie since 2014.

What’s his creative process?

It depends on the mood. That nigga can go from 0 to 60 really quick depending on who’s in the studio, what was said, how the music is going. I might be going through some sounds and, out of nowhere, he’ll hear this one sound and turn up. He’ll be like, “Yeah, yeah, that’s the one right there. Let’s do that (laughs).” I’ll just take it and run with it and make whatever comes out. When we first started cooking up for Captain Hook, I flew out to Atlanta after he just started staying down there. We were locked in in the crib. I was there for seven days and we probably went to the studio for two days. Everything else was us locked in, in the crib. That’s when we created songs like “Pablo,” “Fall Again” and “One Time.” I would start some shit, and next thing I know he’ll come out the corner humming a melody. The next thing I know, there would be words to the melody and now we have a whole song.

“Bitchuary” is probably his biggest song. How did that one come together?

He was probably in Atlanta and I was in Baltimore at the time. I sent him over some beats and that was one of the beats I sent over. He called me like, “This is the one. You’re going to love this.” Next thing I know, I get sent “Bitchuary” and I’m like, “This shit is hard.” Even then, I didn’t know it was going to do what it did. I never thought it’d turn into that.

Who was the first artist of note you worked with after Shordie?

I’d have to say Pusha T. First time I ever saw Push record a verse live was crazy to me. I never told him, but in my head, I was thinking, “This is crazy. I’m getting these cocaine bars live right now.” This was probably 2019. It was when he did the joint he did with Benny The Butcher (“18 Wheeler”). I didn’t see him write the whole joint, but he was in the booth putting his verse together. I think he only did about two or three takes.

How did you end up in that session?

We were in Maryland and he had us working on records for another artist. He happened to come to our session. I was outside smoking and saw two or three people coming down the walkway on the side of the building, so I thought, “Who the fuck is that?” If you coming down here, you really only coming to one place and we weren’t expecting anyone. I look up and it’s Push. He dropped in like Batman.

Did you have conversations with him?

Yeah, he’s big bro. To be honest, a lot of conversations don’t be based around music. They’re more about business versus the actual music side of it. When we talk about creativity, it’s usually when I play him a song to get his opinion on.

Have you two collaborated yet?

I worked with Push before I met him personally. Around when Tracy T dropped Millionaire Nightmares, I did the single called “Choices,” which featured Pusha T and Rick Ross. He bodied that verse. I also have another joint with him and Tate Kobang. I sent Push so much, I never know what he’s doing. He’s like a mad scientist. If it’s coming out or getting done, you’ll find out when it happens (laughs).

I also saw you in the studio with Freddie Gibbs.

Shout out to Gibbs. I connected with him when we were in L.A. a few months back working in the studio. One minute I look up, and in walks in Gangsta Gibbs. He was vibing. I was in the A room and working upstairs. I had dropped some beats off upstairs and the writer was working on those beats. I went downstairs to see what was going on and that’s when Gibbs walked in. That was a crazy night. That was a good night.

Tate Kobang (far left), Freddie Gibbs (center), YG Beats (far right)
Tom Nguyen

Did you see his creative process?

Oh yeah. We worked on a song that night. Well, we started a song that night. So much was going on in the studio room, I think he wanted to take the beats home. I went through about eight beats, he got about two. There was one we started working on and he was like, “Yeah, that’s the one.” We were probably working on it for 30 minutes. He went over into an in-the-cut area between the studio and the booth and vibed out. I saw him doing his rapper thing, so I knew it was about to be a cold night. He told me he was going to take it home. After that, he did two more features.

From Shordie Shordie to Pusha to Gibbs and then you somehow got to Nicki Minaj. How did you end up producing “Fractions”?

Shout out to Nicki Minaj and my brother Tate. Tate is the one who put that together. Tate works with Nicki a lot. Everybody doesn’t know Tate be in his producing bag too. He connected with Nicki through his production and writing. He made the “Fractions” beat about two years ago. Fast forward, once it gets to Nicki, It gets to the sample clearance part. That’s the “Where I’m From” sample and they didn’t want to use the sample. They asked Tate if they could make something that wasn’t the sample but really close. That’s where I came in. I redid the sample and pretty much replayed the whole beat. We made the beat on the spot, he sent it to Nicki through text and that was that. I heard something about the song within the week it came out, but it wasn’t all the way definite. Then, I heard the day of that it was actually coming out. I ain’t going to lie, in the moment, I was like, “I would love for this to drop because it’s Nicki Minaj, but I’m going to wait until I see it on my Apple Music (laughs).” When I saw it there, I was like, “This shit is crazy.”

YG Beats
Spuddz McKenzie

What is one of the most memorable studio sessions you’ve been part of?

My father does music. Back when I and my homies were in Baltimore and put our studio together, my pops came through and brought his producer and everything because he works on gospel music. He wanted me to produce a record for him. I was like, “Alright, cool.” He booked a session and everything. We’re in there working and he and his producer’s chemistry was electrifying. Usually, I don’t take a lot of backseats in the studio. That day, I chilled in the backseat thinking, “I can’t believe this shit. They’re really putting this track together.” At this point, I had been in the studio with a couple of people but I never saw them work like this. They were putting this together on some Motown-type shit. For me to be part of the full production was crazy. I came in with the new sound to fuse with what they were doing. Still, until this day, that is the most memorable session. I’ll never forget how I felt in that session.

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